Chicago Zoological Society

For a Better World: Young Conservationists Making a Difference 




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Posted: 12/14/2010 11:50:17 AM by Deb Kutska
Students from Lake Forest Open Lands’ newest education initiative, the Center for Conservation Leadership (CCL) explored the topic of environmental justice this past Saturday, November 6, 2010. With the help of professional lawyers, Susan Franzetti and Julia Magnus, students learned through role playing the responsibilities of judges and environmental lawyer representing different interest groups in determining complex conservation issues. CCL participants were joined by students from the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago and from the Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee as they debated responsibility for and solutions to the spread of Asian carp in Lake Michigan as well as the clean up of Waukegan Harbor.   The day culminated in the students presenting their cases to a panel of student judges in the City of Lake Forest City Council Chambers, 220 East Deerpath Road, Lake Forest, IL. 25 students participated.
This workshop was part of the year-long CCL Certificate Program for middle and high school students in Lake County coordinated by Lake Forest Open Lands. Each year, CCL accepts 20 students, representing diverse backgrounds from throughout Lake County, Illinois who are passionate about conservation and the environment. These students participate in a three-week summer residential experience, weekend workshops during the school year and complete a stewardship project in their community. Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded a certificate of completion and invited to continue in CCL through placement in conservation partner internships in subsequent years. This Environmental Justice workshop was part of the school year workshop series. For more information on the Center for Conservation Leadership, please visit or contact Susie Hoffmann at 847-234-8388 or
Post submitted by Susie Hoffman, Lake Forest Open Lands Association
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Posted: 11/9/2010 11:45:39 AM by Deb Kutska

Why are you personally interested in conservation?

1. Conservation is important to me for several reasons. First, conservation is about saving and protecting our world, something that I really value and want to preserve for others to enjoy. Second, conservation has shown me that it only takes an idea to change the world. Once a dedicated group gets started, there's nothing that can stop them. And this is how conservation works. When more and more people join the cause, it snowballs and before long, we can say that we've made a dent, we've started a significant change. Our planet has been under a lot of stress. Slowly everyday, the earth is getting dirtier and dirtier. We need to change this. And I believe that it's us, the current generation, that will change it. The responsibility of cleaning up our environment has been passed down for far too long. It needs to stop here and now or we might never have the chance to save our planet again. This is what conservation is about. And this is what we need to make happen today. Our group has decided to take the responsibility of protecting our environment and we won't let it be silently and wrongly be passed down to the next group of kids. It's a big job and we're here to make the change start now.
What is it about the "DOT" project that is so exciting for you?
2. Do One Thing is the perfect chance for us to start our campaign to save the environment. It helps us pass on the conservation mindset by asking people to only make one small change to there life. This has been an amazing tool. In only a couple weeks, we were able to collect over 700 DOTs! Thats 700 people who have changed one thing in their life to help the environment. Thats a lot! Our original goal was only a couple hundred. DOT has opened my eyes a little more to see how people really do care about the environment and they really are willing to help make a difference. Whenever I worked DOT, my favorite saying was always: "Every little thing counts" and I think that really sums up why I like DOT so much. Every little thing that each of us can do adds up to a massive difference.

What is the best way to get youth involved in conservation?
3. I think the best way to encourage people to do anything is to get them involved. A lot of people won't help conservation because they say something like: "I'm only one person, so I won't make that much of a difference." Or maybe they'll say: "Well, I don't feel like doing it now but I'll do it next time." These are the attitudes that need to be changed. By getting kids involved in our DOT campaign and encouraging them to do more at home, we'll be leaving the idea of conservation and its urgency in their minds. Getting them excited and ready to have fun while practicing conservation, they'll not only leave with a positive idea of conservation, but they'll also enjoy helping the environment. Get kids involved, spread the word, and make it fun.
(photo by Kym Brown)

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About "Young Conservationists"

This blog was created to showcase youth who are making a difference in their communities and in conservation. Check back often to learn about individuals who are going above and beyond to positively impact their world, to learn about programs that are doing the same and to find valuable resources for youth in your community. Comments are encouraged and welcome! If you are interested in submitting content to post on the blurb or would like your organization to appear in our list of partners, please contact the blog moderator at:


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